Meet Dummy McDeffie
A Primer for Mainstream Media
Every now and then, mainstream newspapers cover a story involving deaf people. If it's a story of triumph, it may be heartwarming and inspiring to the average reader. If it's a story of tragedy, it may elicit feelings of sympathy from the same audience. Unfortunately, no matter whether it's good news or bad news, most of the time you'll find the deaf community groaning and rolling its eyes.
There are a number of cliches and story angles that mainstream reporters use when covering deaf news. To them, it may be exciting and new. They really mean well. As a result they wax eloquent to the point where unbeknownst to them, deaf readers everywhere are reaching for a barf bag.
I'm going to do a little favor for the mainstream media. It's time to show them how it's done. Or not done.
Here's an example of what not to do:
When Dummy McDeffie lines up at his usual position behind the quarterback, he can't hear the snap count. In his world of silence, he has no idea the fans are screaming his name. He also can't hear the oncoming footsteps of the linebacker intent on maiming him. Dummy is deaf. He's had a severe-to-profound sensorineural hearing loss ever since a bout with meningitis at age three. But when Dummy has the ball in his hands, he creates his own kind of music with his eye-opening athleticism. Even though he's never heard a symphony in his life, Dummy is like a conductor on the field as he redirects would-be tacklers every which way.
"It's amazing what he can do in spite of his handicap," said his coach, Bruno Cokeleia. "You know how a blind guy has more sensitive hearing? Dummy's deafness does the same thing but with his eyes. It's like he has eyes in the back of his head. He turns his disability into an advantage. He's one of the bravest kids I've ever met."
Pardon me while I puke.
Okay, now here's how it's done:
In other football news, Dummy McDeffie rushed for 146 yards on 24 carries as he led the Deffville Spartans to their second consecutive division title. He also had 8 receptions for another 102 yards in the Spartans' 38-17 victory over the Belltown Flappers. Senior quarterback Tom Hopkins completed an impressive 20 out of 24 passes for 260 yards and three touchdowns, but it was McDeffie's all-around game that lifted the Spartans to victory.
"McDeffie was on fire today," said his coach, Bruno Cokeleia. "He put us on his back and carried us to the championship."
Asked about McDeffie's hearing loss -- McDeffie has been deaf since age three -- Cokeleia was taken aback.
"Deaf? Deaf? What kind of a question is that?" Cokeleia bristled. "This kid is the best running back in the division, period. His ability to break tackles is phenomenal. He's got great hands with the screen pass. He gets lots of yards after the catch and that completely broke down the Flappers' defense. The Flappers tried to give us a lot of different looks on 'D,' but McDeffie and Hopkins made the right adjustments. Great teamwork. When we work together like that, we can play with anyone."
Rule of the thumb: The person is the story, not his ears. From my world of silence, I thank you very much.